Spotlight Festival: Sedona Yoga Festival

Spotlight Festival: Sedona Yoga Festival

Spotlight Festival: Sedona Yoga Festival


AWAKE Festival - group shot on stage

Looking for something to do next Spring? We are thrilled yoga festivals are back and can’t wait to check out all the amazing events taking place around the world. This week we had a chance to connect with Heather Shereé Sanders, Producer of Sedona Yoga Festival who we are thrilled to partner with next April!

What inspired you to create a yoga festival?
I am passionate about Yoga, and after decades of creating events around community, sustainability, and the arts I found myself ready to retire from production work to practice and teach yoga. I was burnt out! Yoga was healing me and it was a very personal journey I was on. When I was invited to co-produce SYF in its inaugural year my original answer was “No”! I am so grateful to have agreed, as I discovered that production does not take away energy when it is matched with passion. Working in the yoga community is always interesting and not without its challenges. Moving through these challenges with grace and ease is supported by the knowing that each who is practicing yoga is seeking peace, practicing to the best of their ability non-harming, and believes in equanimity. So we move forward with that assumption and beautiful things happen. I learned as I began to produce SYF on my own in 2014 and ever since, that marrying passion (yoga) with purpose (gathering people to collaborate and co-create) is the magic formula of my life purpose. My dharma, if you will. 

What makes your festival unique? 
Sedona, of course! It is a powerful landscape for practice and transformation. In addition, SYF has long been known for offering a diverse range of deep-dive classes and workshops. We offer CEUs, we have so many presenters that no one gets to be the “rock Star” yogi. Over the years we have cultivated an audience of highly educated attendees, two-thirds of which are yoga professionals. So, it is a great place for conversation about the industry itself, and also a great place to discover your unique yoga as a practitioner, with such a wide array of offerings. 

What offering/presenter or class are you most excited about for this year’s event? 
We haven’t announced any of the presenters yet this year but one thing we are very excited about is the expansion of our team to include a programming team. The proposals that come in through SYF’s application process are now being reviewed by a team of yoga professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds and styles. We pride ourselves in finding amazing teachers that are not always drawn to the festival circuit and curating a program unlike any other, where each attendee may choose their own adventure from the numerous offerings available on the schedule. We always have a huge roster of teachers so that none is deemed more important than the other. It is all the parts that make up the whole, as is acknowledged in this year’s theme: Emerge to Imagine. Our aim with the offerings this year is to support those who show up with the tools to increase awareness of how each unique way of being, each independent action, intention, and thought is responsible to the whole, is interdependent in that we each affect the outcome for humanity. As we all emerge from what has proven to be a time of deep introspection – shadow work, even – and increased self-awareness, we are anticipating that “self” care begins to take the shape of community care.



Frances Hunt chats with Reggie Hubbard from the SYF programming team.
Learn more and get your tickets:

Spotlight Festival:  Kentucky Yoga Festival

Spotlight Festival: Kentucky Yoga Festival

Spotlight Festival: Kentucky Yoga Festival



Kentucky Yoga Festival
Looking for something to do in May? We are thrilled yoga festivals are back and can’t wait to check out all the amazing events taking place around the world. This week we had a chance to connect with  Emma Swendsen, the event manager of Kentucky Yoga Festival who we are thrilled to partner with in May 2023. Check out this amazing festival and make sure you pick up your free copy of Yoga Love Magazine while you are there!

What inspired the creation of the festival?

The Kentucky Yoga Festival was inspired by the desire for community connection and co-creating a space for radical transformations. We saw our Kentucky yoga community wanting more opportunities to immerse in soulful connections and deepen their yogic practices. We believe that when you change yourself, you change the world so we set out to co-create this space with the kentucky yoga community and bring forth the opportunities for growth and change our community needs. 

What makes your festival unique?

We like to say that the Kentucky Yoga Festival has the heart of a retreat with the soul of a festival. It is a place for beginner and advanced practitioners alike to come to learn, connect, and heal. We are a family friendly event with kids yoga and playshops in the Sprout Garden and something for every age and phase of the journey. We lean into all branches of yoga and seek to have something for every family member to enjoy even if they didn’t come for the yoga itself. 

What offering/presenter or class are you most excited about for this year’s event?

There is too much to be excited for! Something that has me buzzing going into our 5th year though is welcoming new instructors who began their yoga teacher journeys at the very first Festival in 2019. There are many returning instructors with new offerings that we are excited to be sharing as well in addition to phenomenal vendors, artists, and musicians.  


Instagram: @kyyogafest
Ticket Link:

Kentucky Yoga Festival
Kentucky Yoga Festival
Kentucky Yoga Festival
LOVE PROFILE: Zen Yoga Garage

LOVE PROFILE: Zen Yoga Garage

LOVE PROFILE: Zen Yoga Garage


Melissa Talleda, the owners of Zen Yoga Garage
We are so excited to chat with Melissa Talleda, the owners of Zen Yoga Garage, our first studio partner in Chicago! You can see the full interview via our YouTube link, and here is an excerpt of our fun IG live chat we had about what it was like taking over a studio ownership right before the pandemic hit, inspiration, and exciting things coming up for the studio!

Iana: Melissa can you share with us, how long has your studio been open?

Melissa: We have been open as a studio since 2013. I’ve been involved in the studio since 2015 and I became the owner on March 1 of 2020. The previous owner had the opportunity to move to Prague, when I went to sign the paperwork that day, we were like, okay, so we should maybe order some extra Clorox wipes!

Once we opened, we never officially closed our doors for even one day. We learned how to use Zoom really quickly and we started Zooming from the studio and from people’s houses. Then the other iterations we went through, because we have garage doors in our space, we were able to open the garage doors and qualify as an outdoor space. So we did that in January of one year,  and had folks practicing in full parkas.

Now, there are no restrictions, which is awesome. We do still offer Zoom classes, which has been nice because a lot of our students have moved during the pandemic and we are able to keep our members connected. 

Iana: There are definitely a lot of things we learned to do quickly, like zoom classes, that made some things better. Thank goodness. 

Melissa: I mean, truly, the impact was huge. We have some folks who have been consistently taking our classes from other countries and it’s been really lovely to connect in that capacity. It’s really cool to see this practice that brings everyone together, but still has these really nuanced differences. 

Iana: Tell me about your name, Zen Yoga Garage, it’s not just a clever name right? 

Melissa: The studio started as one location with two studios and it was previously a Jiffy Lube and we put up some walls and put down some flooring. Then we acquired this space, which is directly across the street from the main studio. Our intention with this space that we call the Annex, was supposed to be a temporary location. Then we really liked it, so we kept it. While we were planning an expansion upwards, next door to the main studio was a car wash. For years and years and years, people would come in, they’d go and get their cars washed while they took class and it was such a beautiful relationship. That car wash just ended up shutting its doors after 20 years, so we were able to get that space which is directly connected to our main studio space. So that is a full size drive through car wash that we cleaned up, reconstructed, and now it’s a studio that can hold 100 mats comfortably.

It’s wild! We try to stagger classes the best we can, so at least there aren’t classes loading in, and coming out at the same time. But there are times where the studio across the street will have between 150 to 200 hundred people all practicing at the same time. Now we’re also running teacher training, so that just brings in new energy and life. We have an amazing staff of volunteers to make sure that the studio stays looking good while everyone’s coming in and out. Because while we’re really fortunate to have a really large lovely communal lobby space, we’re still in the middle of Chicago.

Iana: Tell me, are you from Chicago?

Melissa: I’m actually from the east coast. I grew up in Philly and then I spent most of my young adulthood in Baltimore and traveling up and down the coast. I was a professional dancer for a while, so Baltimore, DC, New York, Philly were my trek often. I moved to Chicago about ten years ago and it’s a really cool city. 

Iana: The theme of our next issue is LOVE, and to own your own business you really have to love what you’re doing, because let’s be honest it’s not always easy…

Melissa: I kind of had to giggle at that because when I meet somebody new and they ask, “Oh, what do you do for work?” and I tell them I own a yoga studio, they say “That must be so relaxing.”

Iana: What is one word you would use to describe what it’s like being a yoga studio owner?

Melissa: Hats. Lots of hats. I think the biggest challenge in owning a studio, is you have to go from fully holding space, leading classes, spreading that passion and inspiration that you have…to then stepping off of your mat and responding to emails about mixed up retail orders and the internet that’s been out, and learning how to manipulate and set up sound boards and your visual equipment. So there’s this constant, push and pull of energy. The challenge that I find, and that I find with a few studio owners who I connect with often is, how to go from giving, giving and then can you receive? Can you find that inspiration piece?

Iana: Replenishing your well, that’s the only way you’re able to do it! It’s funny because I did a teacher training 15 years ago thinking I want to own a studio and be a teacher, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that shift that you just talked about from receiving and giving without being exhausted. So I chose a different path…

Melissa: I think that’s something that yoga teachers in general face. I think many yoga teachers aren’t solely yoga teachers. The nature of the industry is you tend to teach a few classes at a few studios, and you’re either a constant gig worker trying to pick up shifts, or you’re a nine to fiver who needs the fulfillment of teaching yoga and you have something to give there. But I think that regardless of where you are in the industry, it is a push and pull and like that old saying goes…”do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”  or “do what you love and you’ll work every single moment of every day.”

Iana: Can you share with us before you go what you’re most excited about coming up? Is it a YTT? Is it a retreat? Is it some kind of class that is new to your schedule?

Melissa: We just started two teacher trainings, we have a 200 hour teacher training that just began and we are halfway through our 85 hours prenatal yoga teacher training. Big things that are coming up, is the annex is about to be transformed into a training space. So we are close to debuting our 300 hours teacher training. Through the pandemic most of our yoga teachers, if they didn’t already have their 300 hours, used the time for professional development. So we now have some of the most highly skilled, highly compassionate, most inclusive, diverse staff of any studio that I’ve seen. We made it a goal as a studio to put that out there because we want to keep bringing the industry up.

Iana: Thank you for your support.